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Buy on Google

December 14, 2020

Formerly Shopping Actions

Buy on Google has a heritage that goes back to Froogle, a price comparison site Google launched in 2002. It’s gone through various incarnations as it evolved into Shopping Actions in 2018. In July, 2020 Google announced sweeping changes, and a renaming of Actions to Buy on Google.

The most significant change: Google is no longer charging merchants a commission (as high as 15%) for products listed and sold on Buy on Google. So, like Surfaces across Google, Buy on Google is a platform that is free for merchants to use.

 

What Is Buy on Google?

Unlike their pay-per-click cousins, Shopping Ads (first illustration below), Buy on Google ads display a small shopping cart icon in the ad (second illustration below) to indicate that the product is available on Buy on Google.

Google Shopping ads

Buy on Google ads
Buy on Google products can be purchased by consumers using Google’s Quick checkout or, if products from multiple vendors are being purchased at one time, using their universal shopping cart. Buy on Google products are covered by the Google Guarantee which assures purchasers that Google will stand behind the product.

Orders purchased through Google’s universal shopping cart are pushed through to the Merchant Center where the merchant can mark them as fulfilled and record shipping information.

For merchants not wanting the additional manual work of managing orders and fulfillment in the Merchant Center, AdAmplify’s app syncs all Buy on Google orders seamlessly and automatically to your Shopify store, so you can manage Buy on Google orders in the same place and in the same way as purchases made directly on your site.

As well, using our app your fulfillment information is synced back to the Merchant Center, so that Google knows the order has shipped and can provide backup customer service to make good on its “Google Guarantee” promise.

Aside from Looks, How Do Buy on Google Ads Differ from Shopping Ads?

Unlike Shopping ads where costs are incurred each time a user clicks through the ad to your site (whether they buy or not), Buy on Google is free. And whereas Shopping ads redirect a potential purchaser who clicks on the shopping ad to the merchant’s site, Buy on Google allows users to purchase right on Google.

The other major distinction is that Shopping ads require the merchant to set up, manage, and optimize their ad campaigns, while for Buy on Google these tasks are managed by Google for you.

Pros:
Exposure. Exposure. Exposure. With the obvious plus that Buy on Google is free, while Shopping ads are charged out on a pay-per-click basis.

For you, Buy on Google also means considerably less work in ongoing campaign management effort and cost, which can be very substantial if you are continually reviewing and optimizing your results as you should.

As well, when you upload your products into Buy on Google, a merchant page is automatically created by Google that displays all your uploaded products on Google Shopping, allowing users to browse your entire product line.

Notably, when Buy on Google or Surfaces place your ad on a search results page, these placements have a higher conversion rate than text ads. As well, users who are browsing Google Shopping for Buy on Google products will typically convert at a much higher rate given that they are actively looking for a product with a high intent to purchase.

Cons:
Shopping ads offer the advantage of allowing you to adjust campaign settings to maximize clicks and/or conversions (similar to paid search text ads), while Buy on Google has no mechanism to allow you to influence when your Buy on Google ad appears on relevant search results pages (you’re in Google’s hands) and in competitive categories may see few instances of your products being displayed on SERPs.

As well, the scrutiny of products is tighter since they are being sold on Google, not your site. So, it’s not uncommon for products approved for Google’s Free Product Listings to be disapproved for Buy on Google. And certain products such as custom made ones, or at the other extreme those from large drop-shippers will be disapproved in our experience.

 

Other Important Changes in Buy on Google

In addition to Google’s decision to no longer charge a commission on sales, July’s re-alignment of the Shopping Actions programs also made some other considerable changes, aside from the name change to Buy on Google:

Merchants are now able to use their own payment provider (starting with PayPal, with Shopify payments announced as next up).

Management of customer service and returns, formerly managed by Google, is now the primary responsibility of the merchant (with Google reserving the right to resolve any disputes as part of their Google Guarantee). You must commit to a 30-day refund policy to participate in Google Buy on Google. Customer Service issues will typically come directly to you based on your fulfillment of the order; any questions directed to Google will be sent first to your customer service email address. But, if an issue isn’t resolved satisfactorily, the customer can file a claim with Google and their customer support will pick it up.

In the pre-July 2020 version of Buy on Google, Google owned the customer and you were not allowed to use the customer’s email address for marketing purposes. Not much has changed there: during the checkout process on Buy on Google users must opt into receiving marketing email from the applicable merchant(s).

 

Cross-Border Selling into the US

Previously Google required international merchants to have a US bank account (something that was not possible without being incorporated in the US). Now, Buy on Google allows you to sell your products in the US and ship from your country (you must meet all the other requirements for enrolling in the program, including Google’s 30-day return policy). To enroll you will have to link your Google Merchant Center account to your payment service provider’s platform. Google will transfer funds it collects to your provider and post purchase receipts to it as well.

Joining Buy on Google

The Buy on Google program is still in transition and is invite-only at this time. Initially restricted to an invitation-only program for existing users, new users can now request an invitation to join.

Country Availability: Buy on Google was (and is still) available only in the US and France (French program features and requirements are different than the US program; see here for a comparison).

Google has announced that starting in 2021 Buy on Google will begin to be released in other international markets.

Account Setup: Unless you’ve already set up a Google Merchant Center account, your first step to getting access to Buy on Google is to set one up. With an account, you will be able to request an invite to Buy on Google. If you already have a Merchant Center account, you may already have access.

If you’ve been using your account to run Google Shopping ads, the one thing you’ll notice is that getting authorized for Buy on Google.

This shouldn’t be surprising. After all, Google is selling your products for you, and incurs some risk with each sale it makes on Buy on Google, giving that it is proving the purchaser with a guarantee. So, they are trusting your ability to ship on a timely basis and to make good on any product issues or shipping problems.

For more information on setting up your Buy on Google account click here.

Other Requirements: If you are also running Shopping ads campaigns and using Buy on Google, you will be required to be in compliance with all Shopping ads policies, and ensuring your Shopping ads account is free of any violations flagged by Google and your products maintain a “good product health” rating.

Should You Use Buy on Google?

What’s to lose? You’re not paying a fee to advertise your products in Google Shopping. Participating gives you an opportunity to get more exposure for your products and potentially more sales given that Buy on Google is home to more highly qualified consumers. And, although there is the initial work of setting up your Buy on Google account, the ongoing work is fairly minimal (mainly ensuring that you keep on top of any products disapproved by Google).

If you have an interest in learning more, please contact us.

Check Out: What Google Ad Platforms Should You Use?.

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